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State Rep. Matt Shea made ‘fact-finding’ trip to Oregon standoff

OLYMPIA – Rep. Matt Shea was among legislators who made a trip over the weekend to the eastern Oregon wildlife refuge currently occupied by armed protesters who want some federal lands turned over to local residents.

It was a quick trip, and the Spokane Valley Republican legislator was in Olympia Monday for the start of the 2016 session.

Through a spokesman, Shea said he was part of a group that went to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, at the invitation of some of that state’s legislators. He went at his own expense.

“It was basically a fact-finding session,” John Sattgast, a spokesman for Shea, said. “At this point, it’s premature to release the facts without consensus.”

The results of that fact-finding session won’t be released until all members have had a chance to review them, Sattgast added.

The Oregonian reported that Shea and Washington Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, were among the group that visited the refuge over the weekend at the request of Oregon Rep. Dallas Heard. Also in the group were Idaho Reps. Heather Scott, Judy Boyle and Sage Dixon. They met with the protesters Saturday evening.

One of the leaders of the protesters is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who was in an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 over grazing rights on federal land. Shea was among legislators from Western states who visited the Bundy ranch during that standoff.

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